With an oversized cake and a mass re-enlistment ceremony, Fort Carson celebrated a pair of birthdays last week.
The post is in the middle of a year of events to honor the 100th anniversary of the founding of its 4th Infantry Division. The Army, meanwhile, celebrated its 242nd birthday, an annual rite that always includes cake cut with a saber.
Birthdays are a big deal in the Army, which uses history to inspire soldiers, explained Lt. Col. Ryan Cutchin, who is in charge of the post's centennial festivities.
"It builds a lot of pride in the soldiers of this division and the community," he said.
The division, which includes the bulk of Fort Carson's 24,500 soldiers, was formed in 1917 to fight in France during World War I.
The division's doughboys turned back German advances in early 1918 and was victorious in the battles of St. Mihel and Meuse-Argonne.
The re-enlistment ceremony last week included 100 troops from across the post volunteering for another hitch in uniform.
Col. David Hodne, the division's deputy commander, said the number of enlistees was picked to show the crowd the kind of dedication it has taken to maintain the unit in war and peace.
"Each soldier in front of you represents a year of this service," he told a gathering at the post's parade field.
Hodne also touched on the long line those soldiers maintain. Voted into existence by the Continental Congress in 1775, the first troops in America's Army were volunteers who risked their lives to oust British rule.
"The United States Army traces its roots to that first group of soldiers who fought for freedom," Hodne said.
From its first days to the modern age, the Army has been a team sport, Hodne said.
"It wasn't just soldiers," he said. "Their families and their communities also served proving it takes an entire nation to win a war."
Fort Carson troops are spread far and wide these days. More than 5,000 soldiers from the division are in Europe this month working alongside allies in the largest training exercise on that continent since the Cold War.
Fort Carson also has detachments supporting combat in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria.
Each of those soldiers headed overseas with a grounding in history, Cutchin said.
"We've seen the soldiers embrace that concept and realize that 100 years of service doesn't just happen," he said.
Contact Tom Roeder: 636-0240